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Friday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Jon Lester vs. Bruce Chen

08.24.12 at 12:32 pm ET

To put it lightly, Jon Lester‘€™s 2012 season has been one, long rollercoaster ride ‘€“ with more downs than ups — that doesn’€™t seem like it will end any time soon.

Lester, who is 7-10 with a 5.03 ERA, is having by far the worst season of his career, which may have hit its low point on July 22, when he lasted only four innings and gave up four home runs and 11 runs (all earned) in a loss to the Blue Jays. Since then, however, Lester has at least began to resemble the All-Star caliber pitcher that everyone expected him to be.

In five starts since that disastrous start on July 22, the lefty is 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA. He’€™s gone at least six innings in all of them and is coming off back-to-back quality starts coming into Friday’€™s start against the Royals. On Aug. 12, Lester pitched six innings, gave up one run on three hits and struck out 12 in a win against the Indians. Then, on Aug. 18, he followed that up with another good outing, tossing seven innings and giving up one run on five hits in a win against the Yankees, completing back-to-back victories for the first time in three months

Now, Lester will take on the Royals, a team he’€™s had relative success against in his career, Friday night at Fenway Park, where he hasn’€™t had much success this season. In 14 starts on his home mound, Lester is just 2-8 with a 6.83 ERA and hasn’€™t won there since June 27 against the Blue Jays. He’€™ll try to put an end to that against the Royals, who he is 5-2 with a 1.35 ERA in eight career starts. That includes his start against them on May 9, when he suffered a loss after pitching six innings, giving up four runs ‘€“ only one of which was earned — on six hits.

Opposing Lester for the Royals will be Bruce Chen, who is experiencing a similarly rocky season to that of Lester. The lefty is 9-10 with a 5.45 ERA entering Friday’€™s matchup with the Red Sox.

Despite his deficiencies, Chen has won two of his last three starts, including his last time out against the White Sox on Aug. 18, when he went six innings and gave up two runs on five hits in a 9-4 victory.

Coincidentally, Chen’€™s last start against the Red Sox came on the aforementioned May 9 game, when Chen earned his first victory of the season after going 6 2/3 innings, scattering three runs on seven hits and striking out five. In 10 career starts against the Red Sox, Chen is 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA.

Royals vs. Lester (LHP)

Billy Butler (18 plate appearances): .286 BA/.444 OBP/.357 SLG, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts

Alex Gordon (12): .000/.083/.000, 6 strikeouts

Jeff Francoeur (11): .100/.182/.100, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Brayan Pena (8): .375/.375/.500, 1 double, 3 RBIs

Alcides Escobar (6): .200/.333/.400, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Johnny Giavotella (6): .167/.167/.500, 1 triple

Eric Hosmer (6): .500/.667/.500, 2 walks

Tony Abreu (4): .000/.000/.000

Jarrod Dyson (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Mike Moustakas (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Salvador Perez (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk

Red Sox vs. Chen (LHP)

Scott Podsednik (13 plate appearances): .333 BA/.385 OBP/.583 SLG, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Nick Punto (10): .444/.500/.556, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (8): .571/.500/1.143, 1 double, 1 home run, 2 RBIs

Adrian Gonzalez (6): .333/.333/.500, 1 double, 4 RBIs

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (5): .250/.400/1.000, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk

Mike Aviles (4): .500/.500/.500

Cody Ross (4): .250/.250/.250

Read More: Bruce Chen, Jon Lester, Red Sox, royals
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